Nevada Democrats are calling on President Donald Trump to follow through on his new-found opposition to the construction of a nuclear waste dump outside of Las Vegas, after his top energy official said the administration still supports the Yucca Mountain project.
“It’s time for the president to keep his promise,” Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement. She added that Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s remarks Friday that he planned to move forward with the nuclear waste repository “show that the president has lied to the people of Nevada.”
Trump told a Nevada television station he was reconsidering his support for the project after campaigning recently with Senator Dean Heller, an embattled Republican who opposes the project and is is locked in one of the closest re-election fights in the nation.
“I think you should do things where people want them to happen, so I would be very inclined to be against it,” Trump said in Oct. 20 interview with KRNV-News 4. “We will be looking at it very seriously over the next few weeks, and I agree with the people of Nevada.”
Trump’s remarks were clearly designed to help Heller, who is locked in a razor-thin race with Democratic challenger Nevada Representative Jacky Rosen, said Jon Ralston, a Nevada political analyst and editor of the Nevada Independent.
“There is no other reason he would have said it,” Ralston said in a phone interview. “And poor Rick Perry didn’t get the memo and accidentally told the truth.”
Congress designated Yucca Mountain, 90 miles north of Las Vegas, in 1987 as a geologic repository for radioactive waste from the nation’s fleet of commercial reactors. Then-President Barack Obama cut funding and said Yucca wasn’t a “workable option.”
Trump revived the project and requested $120 million in his budget.
“These contradictory remarks from Secretary Perry underline why the White House must follow through on President Trump’s words about supporting consent-based siting and commit to zeroing out funding for Yucca Mountain,” Rosen said in a statement.